BEN'S BAG O'MAIL
By Ben Dean
I loved and appreciated reading your article about Guillermo Rigondeaux. I applaud you for admitting what most writers won't mention. Boxing has changed and a fighter's career and longevity will be shortened because of it. Networks, promoters, fans and some writers are to "blame" for this shift, but I'm happy to read not all writers have "shifted." The Tim Bradley and Jermain Taylor examples were right on the money. I felt Cory Spinks outpointed Taylor as well. As a BOXER, I just wanted to take the time and thank you.
Benís Response: My man, you are a boxer indeed. Iím honored and humbled that you wrote in. I would never betray a confidence (as an active fighter he understandably doesnít wish to be identified. I will say this writer's credentials are legit and that heís won a world title). However, what you wrote is dripping with so much truth that I think the people need to read what you had to say. The fighters themselves have a unique perspective. It is your blood, sweat and tears; and livelihood. In the absence of which, networks, promoters, fans and writers have no sport. Once again, thanks for writing in.
While I have your attention, Lucas Matthysse was lights out! I was impressed. Iím starting to feel bad for Danny Garcia now that they wil fight each other. Did you see his face when Lamont Peterson couldnít beat the count? That was a look of worry. I picked Danny over Zab Judah. Not sure I can pick him again against ďThe MachineĒ... Sugar Shane Mosley didnít look too bad against a 22 year old Pablo Cesar Cano. I enjoyed that fight as well. Shane looked good when he stayed on his toes but he got tagged when he stopped moving. --Steven Taylor
Benís Response: Matthysse served notice why people have been ducking him, and he displayed the exact reasons why. He was actually the subject of my next article at the time you wrote in. While I'm happy for Shane's latest win, I believe his run at the top is over. While he might conceivably be able to beat a Paul Malinaggi type, there will be no easy suspects at the very top of welter. He is getting hit very flush, and he's such a tough guy with a good chin..that i would be afraid of the punishment he might endure vs a Keith Thurman type etc. I didn't enjoy seeing his face like that after the Canelo fight.
Greg, This is just a guess, but I am thinking the reason Tim Bradley got booed after the Ruslan Provodnikov fight was because he got another gift decision. True, he showed nuts and guts in that fight but it was poorly officiated in my opinion. There were a few instances in which Provodnikov should have granted 10-8 rounds in his favor in which Timmy was hanging by a thead and didnt get some knockdowns called on him but still lost.
I think Providnikov won that fight but thats just me. I also thought Manny Pacquiao beat Bradley in their fight so basically the questionable decisions have been causing some dissent to be heaped on Timmy. This is unfortunate as Tim is a genuinely good guy and a gutsy fighter who doesnt deserve all the hate coming his way. I didnt agree with the decisions but I like Bradley and I think it sucks how he gets treated because of it. Tim gives it his all everytime and doesnt trash talk anyone or flush money down the toilet haha!
In regards to Guillermo Rigondeaux and his promoter Bob Arum.... I think it's a shame what Arum said about his fighter and he needs to release him from his contract ASAP. If he can't market a fighter that made an outright superb fighter in Nonito Donaire look like an ordinary, man then he's talking out of his ass!! That's assinine and I thought Rigo put on a boxing clinic! He didnt run he stayed in the pocket most of the time and made Nonito miss and pay! Arum made a foolish statement and now HBO is going to run with it. Shameful.-- Joe Stevens
Ben's Response: Good comment, other than calling me Greg LOL. You have a valid point (about the booing) that could have some credence. The fighter (in this case Bradley) although not responsible for the judging or officiating in any way, does get placed into a precarious position when some questionable calls or an unpopular decision is rendered. People are quick to forget, but Pacquaio was actually booed following the decision of Pacquaio vs Marquez 3. I believe HBO's subsequent polls over the next week showed a huge portion of fans/media believing Marquez had won. I thought HBO had only 12% believing Pac won, while it was about even in those believing a draw or Marquez outcome. As far as the calls go in Bradley vs Provodnikov, I actually didn't think it was quite as bad as some. Refs miss knockdown calls sometimes. It's not right but in the absence of instant replay to overturn that sort of thing, there doesn't seem to be much recourse. I thought that the ref in the Sergio Martinez vs Martin Murray missed a knockdown in the later rounds, which potentially could have had outcome ramifications. I saw one clear questionable blown knockdown call which was on a delayed reaction (which is what i believe caused the ref to miss it). I get that one. As far as calling the other rounds 10-8 just because one fighter got the better of it and there were no knockdowns, I'm not so sure. I saw a close fight of the year candidate that i had Bradley winning by the slimmest of margins. Regarding Rigo/Arum, I agree that it is a foolish and counterproductive statement to speak negatively about your own assets, an undefeated asset at that.
Great article... so true! When writing about Andre Ward, you forgot to add trainer Virgil Hunterís eloquent statement about which type of trainer would a mother or father take their child to train them if they wanted to learn how to box. A trainer that teaches toe-to-toe fighting or a trainer who teaches hit and not get hit?-- Robert Jackson
Ben's Response: How's it going Robert? Thank you. I've been getting a lot of positive feedback about the most recent article, and have been receiving emails asking me to write more. I will. The eloquence of Virgil Hunter's statement is that it is drenched in truth.
About Guillermo Rigondeaux not being able to get fights, ironically, Floyd Mayweather, the highest paid athlete in the world who has been on Top for 17 years just so happens to employ the same style as Rigondeaux...damn shame!!!!!!!!-- Deric Thompson
Benís Response: Deric, howís it going out in Boston? Appreciate it. Youíre correct in that a BOXER is the highest paid athlete in the world. Itís frequently made to sound as if one is marketable only if you get your brains beat in and fight stupid. You donít always need a hook. As some of my colleagues say, market skills and talent.
Your article about the double standard in boxers getting network exposure was well researched and very interesting. I would also mention Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whitaker in the hit-and-not-get-hit category. But I believe there is a difference in effective defense which can have an impact on how boxers are perceived. Sweet Pea would stay in the pocket and make hit opponents look bad. This holds true for Winky Wright and Andre Ward as well. But when fighters get on their bike and throw occasional counter punches it gives the impression that they are disengaged from the battle and are scared (as was the case with Andre Dirrel vs Carl Froch). When Rigo used this technique against Donaire and when Bradley employed it against Pacquiao, it was not compelling to most fans. And that is what the networks are interested in. Ratings. Not loyalty to lineal champions. Bradley understood that and did what he had to do in his next fight. He probably didn't have to go that balls put, but he did. Now he has another huge payday coming up.
I like this current crop of Cuban fighters (Erislandy Lara, Rigo, Yurirokis Gamboa) but Rigo and Gamboa's last fights were departures from how they have traditionally fought. They tended to be pit bulls when outclassing opponents before, it's something they should get back to doing.-- Allen (Nor Cal)
Benís Response: Howís it going Allen from NorCal? I have friends in the Bay, love the area. Sweet Pea is as good as it gets defensively. The things he was able to do in a boxing ring were just freakishly good. His balance, his angles, his footwork, his body punching. When you consider that he wasnít even in his prime anymore, I was amazed at how foolish he was able to make Oscar look in many instances. I agree with you 100% that the perception of a fighter changes when theyíre using all of their defensive skill and nuance ďin the pocket.Ē If they move or get on their bike, itís perceived as them running scared. Perception vs Reality. Just as it is possible to perceive something, it is also possible to misperceive something as well. Did Ray Leonard move a ton (for some peopleís taste) in his rematch with Roberto Duran? Absolutely. However, he put a serious boxing clinic on Duran while doing so. Some said Leonard ran from Hagler. Regardless of what movement one saw (ring generalship), I saw Leonard popping Hagler upside the head in combination all night. I believe there is an inherent bias in judges that penalizes the fighter thatís not coming forward. Coming forward SHOULD be about effective aggression. If youíre coming forward all night, but are ineffective in doing so..you should not be rewarded. Case and point, while watching Forrest vs Mayorga II.. I along with the judges thought Vernon was giving up entirely too much ground. When I later saw a replay of the fight, it became clear to me that Forrest had actually landed far more clean punches than Mayorga had throughout the bout. However, the perception that he was giving away ground made the judges see it the other way. I agree with you on styles and ratings. However, you must consider that the network has regularly featured fighters that were boxer/movers. Paulie Malignaggi has been on HBO countless times. Chris Byrd was on multiple times. Mayweather, the purest boxer in the world at the moment just also happens to have the richest contract in sports. Gamboa, at his age needs to be as active as possible. Iím eager to see how the careers of both he and Dirrell (another boxer that needs activity) play out. Itíll be interesting to watch Rigondeaux, Lara, and Gamboa as their respective careers progress.
Excellent article on boxing concerning the way HBO has shafted Guillermo Rigondeaux. --Santana Pits
Benís Response: Thanks. Letís wait and see how it all plays out.
Ben, I wrote into Bread's last mailbox about this same topic. I am disgusted at how Rigo is being treated (I think Golden Boy is going to do something similar to Erislandy Lara BTW). I'm not even a Rigo fan. Had only saw him fight once or twice before he fought Donaire, but man the dude did his thing. Now am I ready to put him on a pound for pound list or call him an all time great? No. But based on his last performance, does the man deserve to headline a major card? YOU DAMN RIGHT!! He beat the Top Dog and now he should reap the benefits. Like you stated, he did what he was supposed to do, fought his fight and dominated a World Champion fighter.
But let's really get into it for a minute. What's really going on is promoter Bob Arum doesn't believe he can make "real" money with Rigo, so he wants to shelve him and focus on Pacquiao, Donaire, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and such. He doesn't even want to try to promote Rigo cause he doesn't feel its worth it. That's what frustrates me the most, because as a promoter, its Arum's job to sell Rigo to the Networks and to the public. Make us believe he is the best thing since sliced bread. After the Donaire fight, Arum should have stuck his face in the first camera he saw, and yelled "you just witness the best pure boxer in the world, this guy is the best ever and ten times better than Mayweather", whether true or not, thats what a promoter is supposed to do. But instead, the first thing out of Arum's mouth was "I can't promote this guy". Now let's address the 2 ton elephant in the room; I think the reason Arum feels that way is because he is trying to cater to the Mexican boxing fans. Yeah I said it(in my Chris Rock voice). Right now TR and GBP are building all of there cards to cater to the Mexican fans(especially on the West Coast). Filipinos and Puerto Rican fans carry alot of weight too, but nothing close to Mexican fans. We all know that Mexican fans like brawlers and punchers more than conventional boxers. Mexican fans also BUY TICKETS!! If you give them the kind of fights they want to see, they will come out. That's understandable, but where I think these promoters are dropping the ball is, yes its true Mexican fans may have a preference but it doesn't mean they don't appreciate all fighting styles. They just need to be matched right. Richard Shaffer said after Lara beat Angulo, that it would be hard to promote Lara. Well I was at that fight, and I can tell you that people in the crowd was just as excited to see that fight as they were to see the main event. So "hard to promote" is bullshit!! Match the fighters right and promote it the way you are supposed to, and fans will show up and tune in. Thanks for the article and shedding light on a awful situation. Fan of their styles or not, these men deserve to be promoted to the fullest and land bigger fights. They EARNED it.--Marlin Chambers
Benís Response: Whatís up Marl? Thanks, I appreciate it. You raise interesting points so letís get into them. I agree with you, all-time great talk is premature. Thereís too much (as G Leon says) between the cup and the lip at this point to go overboard. However, if Rigo isnít on your pound 4 pound list, he needs to be. No one could name me 10 fighters in the world that if they were the same size would beat him. I concur, in beating the top dog HE SHOULD reap the benefits. He faced a top dog and dominated him. Also, for those stating he moved or he fought a technical or non-crowd pleasing fight I say this. Ring generalship didnít make Donaireís face look like that after the bout. Movement also didnít have him grabbing his eye like that in the 12th round.
I believe Donaire walked into something in the first round or two that told him, this Cuban can crack.. I better not just walk in on him. I canít remember if it was a left or a right hook. Therein lies the dilemma for future Rigondeaux opponents. You know heís supreme technically, so youíll be at a disadvantage in boxing, ring generalship, movement and footwork. So the belief is you have to run in on him, BUT you have to go through some serious artillery to get there. That real estate you want to plant your flag upon, heíll make you pay for every inch EACH time you try. Should he decide to let you gain an inch, heíll simply circle out and be at a new location before you recalibrate. Brilliant stuff. I love your comment on Arum looking into the camera and yelling heís better than Mayweather. It doesnít matter if itís true, as a promoter thatís your job to convince the viewing public that this is the case. You hit the nail on the head, itís the promoters job to promote. Let me give you an analogy. As a concert promoter youíre trying to drum up interest for some summer concerts you have upcoming. Would you print flyers that say, ďcome on out and see the most lukewarm mediocre show touring all summer long.Ē You donít crap on your own product then complain nobody wants to eat it. Let me touch on what you said about fans of various ethnic groups. Itís not as if fans cannot appreciate a diversity of abundance in styles. Latino fans have historically loved come forward Mexican fighters. They love Canelo at a rock star status sort of level. If you watch his fight vs Trout, Canelo actually was a boxer. He wasnít a come forward aggressive brawler. You saw head movement, shoulder rolling, good defense, patience, power, speed, he wasnít overly aggressive (although that could be due to an unrealized confidence in his stamina). You saw all the things that get some fighters booedÖ the point is fans can come to appreciate a variety of styles. Back to Rigo/Top Rank..you donít overly focus on the things a fighter canít help (like where theyíre from etc). You appreciate the fact that the God-given talent youíre witnessing is once in a generation type natural ability, and you have the opportunity to promote it.